It is a strange truth that the parts of the Gospel that deal with this type of reckless and unreasonable forgiveness seem to bother us the most. Certainly form the basis for a heated debate and much shaking of heads; wondering why we bother.
But if this is the question - then maybe, and I ask myself this, maybe we have not even earned an hour's pay in God's vineyard.
Maybe we were hired at the very beginning but have spent the day sitting in the shadows of the protective wall watching everyone else do the work; carrying the lighter basket; taking the extra cup of water - thinking that just being there was good enough. And then probably having the nerve to be at the frontline in the criticism ; after all - we were there. Hired and accepted - payment promised - with a handshake to seal the deal.
But is that enough?
Last time this Gospel came around I thought about the 'Last hour' people as people who were lost; and unwanted; like the beggars you often see on city streets; looking for work but who would ever hire them?
People who find themselves abandoned by society or living without hope often come to a point where they only have God to turn to and only then when every other avenue has been tried and lost.
The redeeming message is that, for such people, when you give up all that you have, wholeheartedly to God then all that has gone before is redeemed. And for many their future lives are filled with the paradox of knowing themselves loved in God's eyes whilst continuing to be judged on past events by the world.
Last week's Gospel told us that this is wrong, We are meant to offer the forgiveness that the world is incapable of.
It seems we, I , am unable to stop judging people either for good or for ill. But in seeking out the opportunity for forgiveness we should be able to see better with Kingdom eyes.
Time has been been on my mind lately. Thinking about this and the difficulty with reconciling the 'Last hour' to a days worth of labour I was reminded of something which did give me a new viewpoint.
I was involved in a project that delivered creative art workshops for people with social issues across my area. Adults sometimes but mostly schools. Schools, generally, are very keen to get value for money and I would often find myself working with multiple classes throughout the day - I think 140 students in a day was my record.
To even hope to provide a 'creative experience' for this number of students was a logistical challenge that, for me, often weighed heavy on my own creativity and made me question what benefit that 40/60 minutes could make to a person living with many other difficult life challenges.
To be truthful the workshops were always enjoyable but on occasions there would be a special moment - it could be as simple as the first time someone wrote their name; used a sewing needle or made it through a lesson without a panic attack. Moments that would be celebrated by students and teachers.
Out of thousands of hours they are moments that are precious. And that continues now with the hours of my life and the hundreds of people that I encounter - there are always Kingdom moments that are simply 'right'. Moments when I am no longer 'idle'.
Moments that, given the choice, I would say to God - 'Never mind what has gone before - if you are going to judge my worth, Lord, judge me on that.'